Every day I drive past these trees which in the past week or so have started dropping their load of chestnuts onto the street. I was contemplating stopping and asking if I could pick some, when this morning there was a sign: “chestnuts for sale!” Awesome, I love chestnuts! I think part of their fascination is, they are one of the only true seasonal food left.
my freshly bought treasure, at home on the deck
I love fall, the colors of the leaves, seeing you breath in the crisp morning air…
Just as much as pumpkins are a symbol for fall throughout the new world, in Switzerland where I was born, it’s chestnuts that ring in the shorter days.
Warming your hands on a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts while walking through the Christmas market in November, and of course, our annual family vacation to the italian speaking part of Switzerland: Ticino
Valle Verzasca, TI: of course the pictures are from pretty weather
where we would don our rain coats (it usually rained A LOT whenever we were there in the fall) and boots and go pick bags of chestnuts, trying not to let them sting you under your fingernail (I remember that pain too). Then at night my Dad would make a fire in the fireplace and we would roast and eat the bounty of the day.
I will not go into details about the one time we decided to take a couple of bags back home after vacation and kept them in the kitchen, just trust me, whenever you have chestnuts, keep them OUTSIDE on the balcony, or you’ll be
chasing the inhabitants of the bad chestnuts paying the price for weeks…
Ah memories! I also remember that although fresh and good, they were not always easy to peel. We scored them, even got the special ‘chestnut scorer’ tool, but often the inner skin would stick and you’d have to gnaw it out of the shell…
But today after researching, I have found the perfect, fool proof way to roast fresh chestnuts so they are easy to peel, ust like from the street vendor!
- First you need fresh chestnuts (they should look full and plump and shiny if they are dull pass on them, they are not fresh and might be moldy or dry)
- score them either across or in a X pattern through the shell on one side. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way I found is to hold the chestnut either on a cutting board or up in your hand and cut with a serrated knife or small paring knife.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, (this is the whole trick, yes, you boil them first) drop the chestnuts in and cook for about 10 minutes.
pre-boiled chestnuts in my grill basket, ready to go on the grill
- Drain and roast.
- Again two different ways this can be done, the easiest is your gas grill outside, using one of those grilling baskets. (Or in a baking dish in the oven: Preheat to 425, roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring twice)
- Grill about 5 minutes per side, and WIN! you will have perfect chestnuts!
(the whole ‘…roasting on an open fire’ might be more romantic than practical, but the grill works GREAT.
…and they are gone
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